Sharp rises in the cost of living mean many of us will be tightening belts in order to pay bills and for some there’s a real worry about being able to afford food.

Fortunately help is at hand, both in terms of tips to make your food budget stretch further and financial assistance for the hardest hit.

Understanding the difference between best before and use by labelling can help avoid waste.

Best before” is used on foods with a longer shelf-life, like pasta and tinned foods. Bacteria can’t usually grow on these foods so food poisoning is not a concern. These foods can still be eaten after the best before date though the quality might diminish.

The use by date is for perishable foods like meat that can go off and cause food poisoning. The golden rule to remember is that use-by date is a deadline but best before is a guideline.

Supermarket discount cards can now offer substantial savings on shopping bills. In addition there are a number of apps and websites that offer advice on where free or discount food donated by supermarkets can be obtained.

Once you’ve got the food home, you can cut the cost of preparing it with various cooksmart tips.

For example, rather than heat a whole oven just for one meal, try to batch cook and freeze for later. If you are cooking for one then Items like baked potatoes are not only quicker to cook in a microwave than an oven, they also work out far cheaper. Using a slow cooker can also work out cheaper than an oven.

The money saving expert Martin Lewis and his team have put together an indispensable “cost of living survival kit” that offers a host of great ideas on how you can save money.

As well as carrying out extensive research, they also asked the public for their best tips and in many cases these included advice on stretching the food budget.

It includes how best to store certain types of food so they last longer, apps that suggest a recipe from ingredients left in your cupboard and the best times to shop for supermarket bargains.

It also includes 42 money saving household hacks (including how to get the last bit of toothpaste from the tube) and 25 tips to stop spending (do you need all those subscriptions?) there’s also a chance to send in your own tips that can help others in need.

These are challenging and worrying times for many people but help is at hand to hopefully ensure that no-one goes hungry.

About Jane Beesley
Development & Innovations Chef of SK Foods.
Your food. Our Passion.